December 4, 2009 Subject:
This is not just a lecture to inform-- it is also a speech to convince. Ms. Roy employs as rare and keen a wit and sense of satire as can be heard anywhere, to pick apart and ridicule establishment policy and rhetoric. She challenges a common epithet by asking what it means to be "anti-American": "Does it mean you are anti-jazz, or that you are opposed to free speech? ... That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias?" She can't resist taking a sly swipe at men, either: "Now that the initial aim of the war [in Afghanistan], capturing Osama bin Laden dead or alive, seems to have run into bad weather, the goal posts have been moved. It's been made out the whole point of the war was to topple the Taliban regime and liberate Afghan women from their burkas. We are being asked to believe that the US Marines are actually on a feminist mission." And then there is this one, which is sure to appear in quotation collections and user signatures on Internet forums: "Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use-- first, to shrink-wrap people's brains, and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead."
Google Videos currently has a complete copy of Ms. Roy's talk, minus the annoying Democracy Now branding and logos that seem to imply the lecture and video were their own production-- search on "Arunhati Roy Come September" to find it. In her introduction, which is clipped from the Dem. Now version, She describes both the issues and what she has to say about them as being complex, and indicates that she has written an essay rather than a speech, which she then reads to us. I tend to agree with her, and think that there is too much to take in all at once, even at the slow pace at which she speaks. Transcripts are available, where one may read at one's own speed, and pause to think about each idea that is presented.
Five stars for the content, but only four for this version of the video.